TikTok Planning More European Data Centers Amid Data Concerns

February 17, 2023

Video sharing app TikTok said Friday it’s planning two more European data centers amid growing concerns about its users’ data privacy.

TikTok’s general manager for European operations, Rich Waterworth, said in a blog post that it is “at an advanced stage of finalizing a plan” with a third-party provider for a second data center in Ireland. It announced its first center there last year.

TikTok did not specify the location of the third European data center, but said it was in talks to establish it.

The new centers are purportedly to alleviate concerns from authorities in both Europe and the U.S. over TikTok’s handling of user data.

More than two dozen U.S. states have banned TikTok on government employees’ devices and laptops, and in December, language was included in Congress’ bipartisan omnibus spending bill to ban the app from federal government devices. Further, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have called for a nationwide ban on TikTok for all Americans.

The actions follow warnings from FBI Director Chris Wray, who said in November that the Chinese government could use TikTok to control data collection on millions of American users, or to control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations.

In Europe, the EU’s digital policy chief, Thierry Breton, last month warned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to comply with strict new rules for social media platforms that are set to take effect among the 27 member nations later this year. Breton asserted that because the young age of so much of TikTok’s user base, the company has a “special responsibility” to ensure that its content is safe. 

According to reports, TikTok has more than 1 billion monthly active users in more than 150 countries worldwide as of the last quarter of 2022, including a reported 135 million users—active and inactive—in the U.S., the majority of whom are 18-24 years old.

TikTok reported Friday that it had 125 million monthly active users within the EU’s member countries and a total of 150 million users in Europe when non-EU countries such as Britain and Switzerland are added to the tally.

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